High School Summer Internship Program Provides Hands-On Experience in Construction and Facilities Management

Instead of training for track this summer, Issa Samake traded his running sneakers for a chance to get hands-on experience in construction, a major he is thinking of pursuing once he graduates from the Bronx Design and Construction Academy next year. This opportunity was made possible through Columbia University Facilities and Operations and the New York City Career and Technical Education (NYC CTE) Industry Scholars’ internship program that ran from July 11 - August 19.  

September 19, 2022

Through this partnership, six students in eligible NYC CTE high schools across the five boroughs were offered 150 paid internship hours towards their CTE endorsed diploma. The participating schools included Design and Construction Academy, High School of Fashion Industries, Art and Design High School, and the High School for Health Professions and Human Services.  

“Although I am still figuring out what to do after high school, whether to go into construction or block chain technology, I am grateful to the Grant Associates from CTE for encouraging me to apply for the program to learn more about the business of construction,” says Issa.  
For someone who isn’t used to public speaking or meeting new people, Issa enjoyed learning about networking and ways to feel comfortable doing it. As an intern on the Construction Business Initiatives team, Issa supported the department’s capacity-building programs including CU Grow and the Ascend NYC, helping to engage the programs’ current and past participants and plan the Ascend National Conference held at Columbia.  

The other interns included (with the department they worked for in parentheses): Olivia Edmondson (Design and Compliance), Fabian Felipe (Manhattanville Development), Domino Charlier-Juste (Event Management, Conference Services), Brittney Tejada (Dining), and Azzurae Williams (Strategic Communications).  
Brittney, a junior at the High School for Health Professions and Human Services, joined the internship because she was seeking mentorship and experience working on a team. Over the summer, she worked with dietitian Alexa Gandara from Columbia Dining, helping to set up events and facilitating a presentation for over 200 employees about allergens. 

“As someone who has gone through multiple college and clinical internships, I appreciated the opportunity to mentor someone and help them grow," says Alexa. “Brittany was a huge help and asset to our department, researching and creating retail coffee specials for the whole year, including plant-based options that we will be implementing in our menu soon!” 

Throughout the six-week program, students gained valuable career development and practical work experience that complemented their studies and career goals. Every Friday, they explored Columbia’s three campuses, getting to know different teams in facilities management and touring current construction sites. At the closing graduation ceremony, interns gathered with their mentors and other supporters to present their learnings and experiences over the summer.